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Meal aids Gibbons' sweet stroke

Asked what may have inspired his first home run in nearly a month, Orioles right fielder Jay Gibbons was at a loss for words.

Until he recalled what he had for breakfast.

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"I had three Krispy Kremes," said a matter-of-fact Gibbons, who broke open the Orioles' 12-6 win over the Texas Rangers yesterday with a three-run, seventh-inning home run that landed on the flag court over the right-field scoreboard at Camden Yards.

"That might have helped, I don't know. I might have three tomorrow, too, if that's what's causing home runs.

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The home run, which came on a 91-mph fastball from Texas reliever Ron Mahay and traveled 355 feet, was Gibbons' first homer since June 28 against the Philadelphia Phillies.

It also came after the Rangers had intentionally walked Jeff Conine to create a lefty-lefty matchup.

"It made sense," said Gibbons, who went 3-for-5 yesterday with four RBIs and two runs. His 15th homer of the season gave the Orioles a 10-5 lead. "It's baseball and I understand it, but it gives you a little extra incentive to go out there and do the job."

Said Orioles manager Mike Hargrove: "The Rangers did the right thing. It just paid off for us. He got a fastball middle in and down, right in Gibby's wheelhouse. The good thing about it is he didn't overswing."

Good because Gibbons, a notoriously streaky home run hitter, has been working on going the other way more, instead of swinging for the fences.

His home runs may be down - Gibbons had 28 last year - but other numbers are up. Along with a .289 average, his 69 RBIs put him in the top 10 in the league. Last season, he had 69 RBIs and a .247 average.

It certainly has helped that the powerfully built left-hander is healthy after struggling his first two seasons with injuries.

"Gibby's been a little bit streaky this year," Hargrove said. "A lot of it has to do with, I think, Gibby gets caught trying to pull everything out of the ballpark. The last eight, nine games, Gibby has stayed in the middle of the field more. That's the essence of hitting and the more he learns that, the better and more consistent he's going to be."

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In the first inning yesterday, Gibbons lined a single to left off Rangers starter John Thomson to drive in B.J. Surhoff. He then led off the fourth with a double in the left-center-field gap.

"I was trying to go the other way the whole day," said Gibbons. "I figured maybe they'd try to bust me in and they did. ...

"Really, I can't explain why the home runs haven't been coming, but I've been getting my hits. The bottom line is producing runs and driving them in."

At a glance

Hall of Fame induction weekend

Where: National Baseball Hall of Fame, Cooperstown, N.Y.

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When: Friday-Monday

Inductees: Eddie Murray, Gary Carter

Induction ceremony: 1:30 p.m. Sunday, Clark Sports Center

Events: Connecting Generations, an interactive program for families with several Hall of Famers, 3 p.m. Saturday; Legends Roundtable with Murray and Carter, 10:30 a.m. Monday, exclusively for Friends of Hall of Fame members.

Admission: Regular adult $9.50, children 7-12, $4. Induction ceremony is free; for event prices and reservations, call 607-547-0397.

Information: Visit www.baseballhalloffame.org or call 1-888-hall-of-fame for directions. To learn about the Cooperstown area, visit www.cooperstowngetaway.org


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